U.A.E. Official Attacks Zionism at Saudi ConferenceThen along comes a government official from the UAE:
The Saudi king's talk of tolerance and moderation notwithstanding, the Jewish state is proving to be a divisive issue at the religious conference that the Saudi monarch has convened here.
The conference, the theme of which is interfaith dialogue, is an effort by the Saudi monarch to foster more cordial relations between imams in his country and Christian and Jewish religious leaders in the West. The conference is also drawing notice because Abdullah, whose kingdom includes the sites of Islam's two holiest places, denounced religious extremism during his address on Wednesday to the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish leaders who are participating in the conference.
Abdullah left Spain after opening the conference and is currently in Morocco. In an apparent effort to keep the Israel-Palestine issue from taking center stage, the Saudis did not include a single Palestinian Arab Muslim leader among the approximately 200 religious figures in attendance, conference participants say. And the one Israeli rabbi in attendance is listed on the program material as an American.
"We have to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism," the official, Izzeddin Mustafa Ibrahim, who is listed on the program as an adviser on cultural affairs to the president of the U.A.E., said. "Zionism is a political system. Judaism is a religion."
Zionism is a political system -- you mean like Communism...or Islamism?
He continued: "I can speak to pacifists but not bellicists, who are in favor of war."I guess that dramatically cuts down on the Muslim countries he speaks to, huh?
Of course, Saudi Arabia has problems with consistency as well.
Despite the monarch's efforts to foster discussion between Muslim clerics and religious leaders of other faiths, Saudi Arabia does not appear likely to embrace religious pluralism on its own soil.Or the Old City of Jerusalem?
Christians and Jews are forbidden from building houses of worship and from praying in public within Saudi Arabia. One of Saudi Arabia's most senior religious figures, an imam of the grand mosque in Mecca, Saleh bin Humaid, told The New York Sun that there would be no such change in that policy.
"In the privacy of their home they can worship their God and perform their ritual freely," the imam said through his translator. "Nobody will be harassed."
"From a religious point of view, they can't build a synagogue or a church because it's a sacred place for Muslims," Sheik bin Humaid said, referring to the entire country of Saudi Arabia.
In defending the policy, Sheik bin Humaid, who is also speaker of the Shura Council in Saudi Arabia, drew a comparison: "We can't imagine having a mosque in the Vatican," he said.
In any case, Humaid's comparison crumbles under its own absurd weight. He compares all of Saudi Arabia (instead of just Mecca) with the Vatican--thereby ignoring the fact that there is in fact a Mosque in Rome, and by comparison Saudi Arabia should be open to other houses of worship as well.
But let's not confuse Humaid with the facts. From The New York Times, July 1989:
Rome Journal; A Mosque Is Built, Finally, in the City of St. Peter
...Not only is the first mosque now rising in the city of St. Peter, in a low-lying wooded area three and a half miles northeast of the Vatican, but it is also described by its Italian architects as the largest in Europe. The main hall, a swirl of spirals and towering pillars under a curving sky-blue ceiling, can accommodate 2,000 worshipers and is expected to be ready by January. An adjoining cultural center with meeting halls and a library should be completed next year.
''Even if it is not the largest, and there is a question about that, it is the most important mosque in Europe,'' said Abdul Qayuum Khan, the Pakistani director of the Islamic Cultural Center in Rome. ''The simple fact is that it is the only one located in the heart of Christianity, in the Mecca of Catholicism, you might say.''
To one of the project's chief architects, Paolo Portoghesi, the cultural implications cannot be overstated. ''For centuries, Islam and Christianity were in conflict,'' he said. ''This is an expression of the opening of a dialogue among the different religions.''
Islam's idea of 'open dialogue' appears to be building as big a mosque as possible in Rome while denying any open display of any other religion in all of Saudi Arabia.
Which raises the question: just what does Saudi Arabia want out of these discussions, anyway?
By the way, speaking of the mosque in Rome...
In Rome´s Main Mosque, One Imam Is Calling for JihadMaybe that's why Saudi's won't allow public houses of worship--they think other religions instigate violence too.
Incendiary sermons are being preached to the Muslims in the pope´s diocese. And this is no isolated case - the mosques are in the hands of Islamic radicals
They´re downplaying it in the Vatican: "In the end, these are only the things being said in one Italian mosque. And giving too much importance to a local occurrence would risk compromising dialogue," said Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, the president of the pontifical commission concerned with Islamic relations.
But the mosque in question is that of Rome, the pope´s diocese - and it´s the largest mosque in Europe. Inaugurated in 1995, it is sponsored by the Italian Islamic Cultural Center and Arab governments, in particular that of Saudi Arabia. The imam who preaches the "khutba" there every Friday was sent by the theologians of the Al Azhar university in Cairo, the most authoritative university in the Muslim world. And the things said in the Rome mosque are no small matter. The sermon of June 6, 2003, culminated with the following invocations, interspersed with the "Amen"s of the congregation:
"O Allah, grant victory to the Islamic fighters in Palestine, Chechnya, and elsewhere in the world! O Allah, destroy the homes of the enemies of Islam! O Allah, help us to annihilate the enemies of Islam! O Allah, make firm everywhere the voice of the nation of Islam!"